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This Gard Guidance to Masters is not another set of instructions or another manual but aims to provide practical guidance to Masters and officers, containing advice on matters which may involve the liability of the company owning or managing the ship (the Company). It is mainly aimed at Masters and officers whose companies have taken out insurance cover with Gard AS for potential liabilities and damages to protect the ship, the crew, the Company, the cargo and the marine environment.

Whilst the Master may think that the ship is not responsible for an incident, there may, however, be a legal liability on the Company which may be minimised if the correct action is taken at the correct time.

The Company’s liability may arise in all cases where

  • an accident or incident has occurred, and/or
  • a third party raises a complaint or a specific claim against the Company, the ship or her crew.


The Company’s Hull and Machinery insurance cover may be involved if the ship’s structure, machinery and/or fittings are damaged.

This guidance cannot and does not replace

  • any advice and/or instructions from the Company, the Hull and Machinery or P&I insurer, or the correspondents, lawyers or surveyors instructed by these insurers for and on behalf of the Company or the vessel
  • the Company’s documented Safety Management System (SMS) as implemented under the ISM Code
  • the Company’s documented Ship Security Plan (SSP) as implemented under the ISPS Code
  • any International Convention, national law, regulation, guideline or statutory instrument, e.g. SOLAS, MARPOL, IMO resolutions and circulars
  • any manufacturer’s instruction and/or advice in the operation and/or maintenance of machinery, equipment or technical systems
  • the Master’s decision, made at the time. Each situation is different and requires a sound, pragmatic and professional approach by the Master
  • the Gard Handbook on P&I Insurance. If detailed information on the principles of the P&I insurance cover is required, or if the Master and his officers are in any doubt, reference should be made to that Handbook.


This guidance is not

  • another checklist
  • intended to tell the Master and his officers how to run the ship
  • exhaustive.

This publication is not meant to be read from cover to cover. It deals with various P&I and Hull and Machinery insurance issues and should therefore be used as a reference book.

The guidance is provided purely from a P&I and Hull and Machinery insurers’ perspective and is based on Gard’s experience from incident response and claims handling.

The Master and his/her officers should be reminded that no matter what is written in this publication: